Friday, February 29, 2008

WIRED publishes more Abu Ghraib photos

You know, I don't think "NSFW" really cuts it this time. Perhaps "NSFHR"--not safe for the human race--is more appropriate. I am posting a link and a bit of a blurb, but no comment. No doubt you already know what this is about.

From WIRED, Feb 28, 2008:
As an expert witness in the defense of an Abu Ghraib guard who was court-martialed, psychologist Philip Zimbardo had access to many of the images of abuse that were taken by the guards themselves. For a presentation at the TED conference in Monterey, California, Zimbardo assembled some of these pictures into a short video. obtained the video from Zimbardo's talk...
From the WIRED interview with Zimbardo:
Wired: Do you think it made any difference that the Abu Ghraib guards were reservists rather than active duty soldiers?

Zimbardo: It made an enormous difference, in two ways. They had no mission-specific training, and they had no training to be in a combat zone. Secondly, the Army reservists in a combat zone are the lowest form of animal life within the military hierarchy. They're not real soldiers, and they know this. In Abu Ghraib the only thing lower than the army reservist MPs were the prisoners.

Wired: So it's a case of people who feel powerless in their lives seizing power over someone else.

Zimbardo: Yes, victims become victimizers. In Nazi concentration camps, the Jewish capos were worse than the Nazis, because they had to prove that they deserved being in this position.

Read on, MacDuff!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Have you poked a Liberal lately? One body. One person. One count.

Ok, just kiddin'. You don't have to touch any Liberals, but I would urge you to email a few, particularly any Liberals with anti-choice bona fides (see page 2 of this .pdf for a list). You see, the House is due to vote on an anti-choice private member's bill on March 5, 2008. The "Unborn Victims of Crime Act" (C-484) was first presented by Conservative MP Ken Epp (Edmonton Sherwood Park). Birth Pangs issued a Call Out for today, Sadie Hawkins Day, asking pro-choice bloggers to post about C-484. The Creative Goddesses at ACR responded immediately with this motivational video:

As I said a few weeks ago, our government should be working towards increasing support and resources for pregnant women at risk of abuse or assault, but this bill has nothing to do with that. What's more, I guarantee you that we won't hear a word about new funding or resources when the House resumes debate on C-484.

Here's the relevant arithmetic via fern hill (post-2006 fed election numbers):
Action Canada Population and Development (ACPD) reported a new total of 90 anti-choice MPs from all parties, 16 Liberals and 74 Conservatives. [...] 65 MPs did not state their positions, (42 Conservatives, 23 Liberals).
Ok. There are a total of 308 seats in the HoC, and only 90 anti-choice MPs. But here's the problem: if you add the 65 undeclared MPs to the 90 anti-choicers, you get a potential maximum of 155 votes for Ken Epp's backdoor anti-choice bill. That's 50.3%.

Here's what I'm asking you to do:

Given that the Bloc and NDP will probably whip their respective caucuses to vote NO on C-484, we don't have to worry about them. Nope, the disquieting 'sect' is the Liberal caucus: Dion has not said that he will whip his group, so we have no assurances that those anti-choice or undeclared Liberals will vote against this Bill. So...we gotta get on his case. Birth Pangs has setup an Activist Page that allows you to send a quick email to the Loyal Leader of the Opposition. It's quick. It's easy. It's polite. If you are uncomfortable filling in web-forms, then you can contact Dion directly:

House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6
Telephone: (613) 996-5789
Fax: (613) 996-6562
Web Site:*
Preferred Language: French

Constituency Offices

750 Marcel-Laurin Blvd, Suite 440
Saint-Laurent , Québec
H4M 2M4
Telephone: (514) 335-6655
Fax: (514) 335-2712

Tell him we'll be watching. Next, get your butt over here and add your name to this petition. 3175 signatures and counting, yo!

Still need more ammo info? Check out the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada's website, and help yourself to their tips & sample-letter. We've got work to do!

Read on, MacDuff!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

CSIS shows some of its pitiful cards: they got him outta the shower for this?

Lots of strange and outrageous news on the status of the four men held on so-called 'security certificates,' particularly in the last few weeks:

Mohamed Harkat was one of the men held on a security certificate who was released on bail, but under VERY strict bail conditions. One of those conditions is that his wife or Mother-in-law had to be in the house (or yard) with him at all times. Well, CSIS got wind of the fact that his MIL had broken up with her partner and moved out of the house, so they came and arrested Harkat while he was in the shower (Jan 29). Last Tuesday, a judge ruled that Harkat could be released and sent back home under similarly strict conditions. His wife or mother-in-law must still be present at all times (Feb 19).

On Saturday, CSIS finally released bits & pieces of the "evidence" they have against Harkat and the other men held on security certificates. The Harkats spoke to the Ottawa Citizen about it yesterday and it sounds like a total mess--Mohamed said that the name CSIS alleges to be a "shadowy financial kingpin" involved in terrorist financing is somehow equated with a friend--different name, different spelling, mind you--that Harkat happened to mention over 10 years ago. Gah!! CSIS also alleges that Harkat associated with Abu Zubaydah, but offered no proof. Hmmm...could it be something Zubaydah uttered while he was being waterboarded? One wonders. Mohamed's wife is also suspicious of the long, complete sentence-type quotes that CSIS alleges it extracted from her husband in the mid-90s, because he barely spoke any English at the time of those interviews. I want to quote the whole thing, but I shouldn't, so please go have a look if you have time.

As I said above, CSIS has also released dribs & drabs of its allegations against the other men held on security certificates (CTV):
The Canadian Security Intelligence Service released documents Friday that listed the various allegations against Moroccan-born Adil Charkaoui.
CSIS claims Charkaoui was actually in charge of training recruits at the al Qaeda camp, and also accuses him of talking about taking over a commercial aircraft for "aggressive ends," and applying for airport jobs in what may have been part of a terrorist plot.
[...] Here are some of the accusations made against Charkaoui and the four other accused:
  • Officials allege Charkaoui told CSIS that Abderraouf Hannachi sent him to an al Qaeda training camp. Hannachi, also of Montreal, sent the millennium bomber Ahmed Ressam to similar camps, the Globe and Mail reported. CSIS also claims Charkaoui trained terrorist recruits.
  • Syrian-born Hassan Almrei is accused of forging documents, and apparently using access cards to trespass on a restricted area of Toronto's Pearson International Airport in 1999.
  • Mahmoud Jaballah, of Egypt, is accused of communicating with terrorist cells, along with Osama bin Laden's second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri - who he allegedly contact on a satellite phone and called him "the father."
  • CSIS has accused Mohamed Harkat of being an Algerian sleeper agent and claims to have overheard him possibly discussing terrorist activity.
Adil Charkaoui has released a statement denying the allegations against him. He also believes that some of the 'evidence' cited by CSIS was obtained under torture. You can find Charkaoui's complete response to the allegations at his website, but I will leave you with a sample (emphasis mine):
The new certificate was issued as a result of the Supreme Court decision ruling that the law under which the first certificate was issued was unconstitutional. The Coalition believes that the Harper government has not respected the Supreme Court decision, and that the new law, which entered into force today, remains unconstitutional, unjust and discriminatory. The law and the process which led to its adoption are an insult to democracy. (Analysis of C-3.)

We note that the new public summary of allegations against Mr. Charkaoui no longer includes information from Abu Zubaydah, which was obtained under torture. However, the Coalition is shocked by the fact that the government continues to rely on other information which there are serious grounds to believe was produced under torture. The government cites a confession by Noureddine Nafiaa, a prisoner in Morocco. Media in Morocco and Radio Canada have reported that Nafiaa says he was tortured and forced, blindfolded, to sign a confession that he never saw. His account of torture is corroborated by several reports by independent human rights organizations of the situation in Morocco. The fact that the government relied on torture-information from Zubaydah until this fact was very publicly exposed, and continues to use information from Noureddine Nafiaa, raises very serious questions about the source of other secret information in the file: was it also obtained under torture?

The Coalition is also very concerned that allegations from Ahmed Ressam remain part of the file. Ahmed Ressam, who identified dozens and dozens of people while imprisonned in the United States, under a bargain which lessened his sentence in exchange for information, has publicly retracted his information and is known to have suffered a mental breakdown in prison. Charkaoui and his lawyers have asked to cross-examine Ressam numerous times. This opportunity has always been denied, and it was finally admitted by the government that no sworn testimony existed, and that the information was based on hearsay.

Please go & read the rest of Mr. Charkaoui's response.

This is a fucking outrage.

Read on, MacDuff!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Looking for our International Man of Mystery (plus notes from Lavoie and the Silent Chef)

Well, your delinquent kitty is late AGAIN. I'm finally posting some more notes from the Commons Ethics Committee's study of the Mulroney/Schreiber affair. I got a bit of a reprieve this past week, as the House was en vacances, but I'm still really, really behind.

In the meantime, here's some new drama: a coupla days ago, the Chair of the committee, Paul Szabo, said that he's considering whether or not to hold former PM Mulroney in Contempt of parliament if he fails to cooperate with the committee's requests for documents:
Szabo sent a summons to Mulroney's lawyers earlier this week demanding documentation about how Mulroney spent money he received from Schreiber and other details of the lobbying efforts he undertook on behalf of the controversial businessman.
In a separate letter, the Liberal committee chairman also sought a guarantee that Mulroney would personally appear for a second round of testimony on Feb. 28.
So far there has been no response from the Mulroney camp, and Szabo says that, in his view, MPs can't afford to let anyone ignore their authority.
You might recall the former PM's testimony suggesting that he was an "international businessman" and consultant for Thyssen International--that he used the connections he gained as PM to peddle Thyssen's light armoured vehicles to Yeltsin (dead), Mitterand (dead), and Jiang Zemin (uhhh...ixnay on that whole Ananmentiay Aresquay. Y'know...what with the tanks and all). Mulroney was then asked by the committee to provide some kind of, uh proof of his "legitimate" business with these leaders and has stonewalled for two months. Until now, that is:
"Mulroney sends old brochures as proof of international lobbying work"
After offering to provide a Commons ethics committee with documentary proof of his international lobbying efforts, Brian Mulroney has sent MPs copies of two old brochures for light-armoured vehicles.
That material, along with an unclassified NATO document that describes the general demand for such vehicles, does nothing to verify the ex-prime minister's explanation for the secret cash payments he received from Karlheinz Schreiber.
And it's not clear whether it will satisfy the demands of committee chairman Paul Szabo, who threatened to cite Mulroney for contempt of Parliament if he didn't cough up documents showing dates, meetings and travel arrangements by the end of the day Friday.
"The only documents which Mr. Mulroney has in his possession are brochures concerning the light armoured vehicle (LAV) produced by Thyssen and copy of a fax attesting to the possible interest of foreign countries, e.g., the United States and the United Kingdom (copy attached)," said the letter from lawyer Guy Pratte, posted on Mulroney's website late Friday afternoon.
[...] Pratte, in a separate letter to the committee Friday, said Mulroney will wait to see what transpires on Monday before deciding whether he'll accept an invitation to close out the hearings next Thursday.
[...] Szabo said Friday he finds Mulroney's wait-and-see attitude on testifying to the committee again "disconcerting."
"It would tend to suggest the possibility that, depending on what somebody else says, that will change my testimony. That does cause some concern."
Yeah. Got the ol' "404-File not Found," eh? Now that's ballz, with a 'zed!'

So. We shall see. Monday morning brings the long-awaited testimony of Elmer MacKay, Peter MacKay's dad and former Mulroney/Schreiber go-between. Karlheinz Schreiber will also return on Monday afternoon.

In the meantime, I've finally posted my notes from Feb 7 (yes, more than 2 WEEKS ago). The Luc Lavoie testimony is organized into six sections:
  1. Luc & Brian, BFF
  2. Why would an advisor give bad advice?
  3. "I know you're no stranger to profanity..."
  4. "Let's not get metaphysical here..."
  5. Szabo lets fly with an awesome (near) curse-word
  6. A high-maintenance relationship
François Martin, Brian Mulroney's former chef also presented himself to the Commons Ethics committee on February 7. Martin was called before the Committee to confirm or deny reports that he witnessed, "cash [coming] in like it was falling from the sky" at 24 Sussex. His testimony is organized into two parts:
  1. The cook, the thief, his wife & her envelopes
  2. The cook, the thief, his wife & her lamp shades

As you might gather from the last picture, the committee had a difficult time evincing anything from Mulroney's former chef. The "news" was really that Martin claimed that Stevie Cameron exaggerated and sensationalized his comments. Martin looked generally out of sorts and intimidated by the procedure, but insists that he wasn't "coached." Pay special attention to what Szabo says at the conclusion of the Martin hearing: you can tell that sumpin's not quite right here.

As for LOL Lavoie...he's either the worst PR guy in history, or Mulroney did a good job of keeping his friend squeaky clean. Favourite interaction? Lavoie's back and forth with the MPs re: who's really the 'Biggest Fucking Liar.' Not to be missed ;)

Next up: notes from the Lalonde, Alford, Doucet, Pelossi and Cameron testimonies. Egad, do I have my work cut out for me. A bientôt!

Update [Sun, Feb 23, 2:32 AM]: Thanks to Toe in comments: M. Pratte, Mulroney's lawyer has posted his latest response to Szabo. He steadfastly rejects that the committee can compel his client to testify on Thursday and quotes Pat Martin to support his position. You can also view the hilarious brochures etc. that Mulroney's camp sent the committee here, here, and here (!!)

Photo credits:

Read on, MacDuff!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

F-F-Finalists? WTF?! er...Thank you!

Sweet merciful crap, my blogs have been included in the list of finalists for the "Canadian F-word Blog Awards:" H&O for the 'Individual' category, and Foul Deeds Will Rise for 'Humour.'*
I'm both grateful and sheepish about these nominations. On the one hand, I'm so thankful that there are peeps out there in the tubez who come visit me. OTOH, I'm totally unworthy of the honour. Look at the others in these two categories: the Birth Pangs crew, Alison and JJ Hippie blog much more frequently and with much greater insight, humour, and frequency than your clumsy kitty. Please go visit ACR and vote for them, and all of your other favourites during the second round of voting, Feb 22-23! I was so pleased to see so many of my favourites (regular reads) make it to the finals--and a lot of new blogs, besides!

And while you're visiting ACR...please consider contributing to WISE, "Wellbeing thru Inclusion Socially and Economically." As prole said in January (emphasis added):
From community development inspired by the grassroots to media campaigning and lobbying, WISE - a group and national movement of low-income women - advances awareness of the links among policy, poverty and health; action to address them; and implementation of creative, inexpensive solutions at the local level. The goals of WISE are (via their website):
  • Raising the collective voice of women who are living in poverty due to policies of exclusion;
  • Changing public understanding of poverty: from that of socioeconomic inevitability, to a condition of social and economic exclusion;
  • Encouraging community members to work with us to reduce poverty in our neighbourhoods to the benefit of all;
  • Ensuring that policymakers understand the worsening economic situation of an increasing number of Canadians to have a systemic cause, one that they can be instrumental in changing.
WISE is one of many organizations who have been mightily screwed by Canada's Eww Government's cruel and unnecessary cuts to the SWC, because of the need to toss some raw meat to their socially conservative, classist, anti-woman base. WISE needs your generous help more than ever to continue providing leadership, training, awareness, and advocacy for low income women across Canada.

We know that you would help women in need out of the goodness of your heart - there is no doubt about that. However, to sweeten the deal, we have added a super-fantastic raffle which will entice you to give more!
For each $10 donation to WISE - via paypal or cheque only - you will be entered into a drawing, i.e. if you donate $100, you will get 10 chances in the drawing. *Cheques must be mailed and received at WISE's BC address no later than February 20 so that we can verify your donation.

Doubtless you're asking yourself,"Prole, what might I win?" Well I hope you're sitting down...

It's a pair of fabulous, bodacious, hand-knit (by moi) Teutonic Titpillows!

Teutonic Titpillows Pic

Thanks so much to pale & prole @ACR for organIZizing this process, and for knitting those pillows ;) Va-va-va-VOOOOM!

*Foul Deeds' entry into the 'Humour' finals is It's actually a dry archive of my notes from various Canadian and American hearings (Mulroney/Schreiber, Michael 'Torquemada' Mukasey, and Blackwater warcrimes). I use feeble humour and goofy pictures to lure readers into reading some pretty depressing stuff. e.g. LOL Lavoie

Read on, MacDuff!

Snuggly the Security Bear & a Valentine's 'Torture Trifecta'

Finally! The US warrantless-wiretapping scandal made simple, from satirist Marc Fiore: The Spies who Love You!

What's that you say? You wannu get into the weeds? If so, go read bmaz at Firedoglake (or just about anyone at FDL, lately; they've gotcher weeds). In the meantime, here are two things that I have tattooed on my arm about US Pres. Bush's warrantless wiretapping program:

  1. This program began BEFORE 911: former Qwest CEO says that the National Security Agency (NSA) approached telecom corpses about the program on Feb 27, 2001 (6 months before 911)
  2. “We’re one bomb away from getting rid of that obnoxious [FISA] court” --David Addington, Vice President Cheney’s chief of staff and former legal adviser (NY Times)
Here's Keith Olbermann on the Preznit's latest attempts to win retroactive immunity for the telecoms and his administration:
It is bad enough, sir, that you were demanding an ex post facto law that could still clear the AT&Ts and the Verizons from responsibility for their systematic, aggressive and blatant collaboration with your illegal and unjustified spying on Americans under this flimsy guise of looking for any terrorists who are stupid enough to make a collect call or send a mass e-mail.

But when you demanded it again during the State of the Union address, you wouldn’t even confirm that they actually did anything for which they deserved to be cleared.

“The Congress must pass liability protection for companies believed to have assisted in the efforts to defend America.”

Believed? Don’t you know? Don’t you even have the guts Dick Cheney showed in admitting they did collaborate with you? Does this endless presidency of loopholes and fine print extend even here? If you believe in the seamless mutuality of government and big business, come out and say it! There is a dictionary definition, one word that describes that toxic blend.

You’re a fascist — get them to print you a T-shirt with fascist on it! What else is this but fascism?
(Video here)

Yes, fascism, "the seamless mutuality of government and big business," that F-iest of F-words, is OUT. Out in the open. And it's not just for spying on Americans.

Remember that Addington quote I had tattooed on my arm? Well, I'm a sucker for symmetry so here's what I have on my other arm:


“the blood of the hundred thousand people who die in the next attack will be on your hands.”--David Addington to Jack Goldsmith (Office of Legal Counsel, US Dept. Justice, 2003-2004).

Here's the full context:
Goldsmith...agreed with the president’s determination that detainees from Al Qaeda and the Taliban weren’t protected under the Third Geneva Convention, which concerns the treatment of prisoners of war, but that different protections were at issue with the Fourth Geneva Convention, which concerns civilians. Addington, Goldsmith says, was not persuaded. (Goldsmith told me that he has checked his recollections of this and other meetings with at least one other participant or with someone to whom he described the meetings soon after.)
Months later, when Goldsmith tried to question another presidential decision, Addington expressed his views even more pointedly. “If you rule that way,” Addington exclaimed in disgust, Goldsmith recalls, “the blood of the hundred thousand people who die in the next attack will be on your hands.”
Well, we know that so-called "al Qaeda" or "Taliban" prisoners were tortured. But what we didn't know before this month is that the Bush Admin has been paying private intelligence contractors to torture prisoners. CIA director Gen. Michael Hayden has spilled the beans (Wall St. Journal, via TPM):
The CIA's secret interrogation program has made extensive use of outside contractors, whose role likely included the waterboarding of terrorist suspects, according to testimony... from the CIA director and two other people familiar with the program.

According to two current and former intelligence officials, the use of contracting at the CIA's secret sites increased quickly in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, in part because the CIA had little experience in detentions and interrogation. Using nongovernment employees also helped maintain a low profile, they said.
So now we can add private intelligence contractors to the list of private--unaccountable--citizens who have been hired to torture prisoners in US custody, as we've known about private military contractors for quite a while now. CACI contractors, for example, were accused of torture in a suit brought by 256 Iraqi prisoners (Dec 2007). Despite the lawsuit against them, CACI was recently awarded millions more in contracts (Jan 2008).

There's that "seamless mutuality of government and big business" thing again.

Before I sign-off for now, I want to leave you with Scott Horton's piece, "The Valentine's Day Torture Trifecta:"
On Valentine’s Day the Bush Administration was out on a mission, straight from the Orwellian Ministry of Love. That ministry of course served in Nineteen Eighty-Four as the center for torture. And as the shortest month reached its middle point, three apologists appeared on behalf of the administration to explain to the American public that they needed to relax and start getting comfortable with torture. It’s the new American Way, after all.
Horton goes on to quote three men: Steven Bradbury (Office of Legal Counsel, USDOJ), President Bush, and Sen. Joe Lieberman (Connecticut for Lieberman party). Please go & read the whole thing. It's enough to make your blood run cold on Valentine's Day.

h/t to:
*Crooks & Liars & the Rachel Maddow Show (Feb 15) for the Marc Fiore Cartoon
*Sam Seder Show (Feb 17) for Scott Horton's Valentine's Day Torture Trifecta
*UPDATE: I first saw the Bradbury testimony when skdadl posted a link to the video at BnR

Read on, MacDuff!

Thursday, February 14, 2008


This is way overdue, but I've posted my notes from last Tuesday's Ethics Committee Hearing. Yeah, yeah, I know...NINE days late!

Former Mulroney Chief of Staff Norman Spector presented himself to the Commons Ethics committee on February 5. I've annotated my notes and organized them into the following 5 sections:
  1. "Don't let this become Frank Magazine"
  2. What's a nice hack like you doing in a place like this?
  3. Brother, those ain't Girl Guides!
  4. Hey! You invited *me*!
  5. The return of Grumpy Old Tilson
Former Attorney General and Minister of Justice (1993-7) Allan Rock also presented himself to the Commons Ethics committee on February 5. My annotated notes are available in two parts:
  1. And the LANGUAGE that they used...
  2. But I *trusted* you, lyin' Brian!
I hope you find these notes useful, even just for future reference or research. Coming up next: I promise to post my notes from Feb 7 (testimony of Mulroney's Chef and Luc Lavoie). I've also recorded the Feb 12th hearings, and I've setup my recorder to cover the Valentine's Day Schreiber-hearing-blowout. Stay tuned!

Spector "Wall of Sound" postcard from

Read on, MacDuff!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

ALERT YOUR MP: Put an end to the backdoor shenanigans!

Our Big-Dumb-Parliament is poised to vote on an anti-choice private member's bill on March 5, 2008. The "Unborn Victims of Crime Act" (C-484) was first presented by Conservative MP Ken Epp (Edmonton Sherwood Park). Just where in the h-e-double-hockey-sticks did this come from? (Vancouver Sun):
The sister of slain teacher Manjit Panghali is seeking support for proposed federal legislation that would make it an offence to harm or kill unborn babies during attacks on their mothers.
Jasmin Bhambra wants people to sign a petition to Edmonton MP Ken Epp, who is advocating for the Unborn Victims of Crime Bill, which she said is scheduled for debate on Feb. 29.
The petition,at, calls for unborn babies who are injured or killed in attacks on their moms to be recognized as separate from their mothers and for two charges to be laid against an offender, rather than one.
The petition states that the death an unborn baby "violates the woman's right to protect and give life to her child."
At the moment, Canada has no such law in place.
Panghali was four months pregnant with her second child when she was murdered in October 2006 and her body set alight. She was found days later on Deltaport Way.
Now, I should hasten to add that pregnant women are murdered at greater rates than their un-pregnant sisters. Our government should be working towards increasing support and resources for women at risk. But this bill has nothing to do with that, and I can guarantee you that we won't hear a word about new funding or resources when the House resumes debate on C-484, later this month.

Nope. We're gonna hear about murdered babies. And innocence. And innocent babies. But don't fall for it for a second, dear reader, 'cause this bill will have nothing to do with protecting pregnant women from crime. And we've heard this song before. Check out the last sentence of the Feb 2 Vancouver Sun piece:
The proposed bill is similar to the American Unborn Victims of Violence Act.
Ah yes. The "Unborn Victims of Violence Act." And just like Epp's bill, the re-introduction (and passage) of the American UVVA was timed to exploit citizen outrage over the high-profile murder of Laci Peterson, a pregnant woman.

Jeez there any American tactic that our Cons won't ape? Here's what Ken Epp's and other so-called 'fetal homicide' bills are really about (via Joyce Arthur):
The narrowness of the bill indicates that the real intent is not to protect women, but to give fetuses legal personhood, for no apparent reason other than to try and use it as a wedge to re-criminalize abortion. The bill was introduced and promoted by anti-abortion groups and individuals (e.g., Campaign Life Coalition, Conservative anti-abortion MP's, Margaret Somerville, and others). Also, it uses anti-choice language, including "unborn child", "child" and "mother". The bill is modeled after similar bills promoted and passed in the U.S. by anti-abortion groups and legislators. In South Carolina, anti-abortion lawmakers explicitly stated they wanted to use the state’s fetal homicide law as a legal foundation to overturn Roe v. Wade (the decision that legalized abortion in the U.S.).
I know, I know...private member's bills don't usually go anywhere, so it's not worth worrying about. Except that it is. Or at least it might be. Here's some quick arithmetic via fern hill (post-2006 fed election numbers):
Action Canada Population and Development (ACPD) reported a new total of 90 anti-choice MPs from all parties, 16 Liberals and 74 Conservatives. [...] 65 MPs did not state their positions, (42 Conservatives, 23 Liberals).
Ok. There are a total of 308 seats in the HoC, and only 90 anti-choice MPs. But here's the problem: if you add the 65 undeclared MPs to the 90 anti-choicers, you get a potential maximum of 155 votes for Ken Epp's backdoor anti-choice bill. That's 50.3%.

Still not worried? Are you confident that enough of the 65 undeclared MPs will vote against C-484? I know I'd like to believe that. But I don't like to leave things to chance these days, so here's what I'm asking you to do:

Given that the Bloc and NDP will whip their respective caucuses to vote NO on C-484, we don't have to worry about them. Nope, the disquieting 'sect' is the Liberal caucus: Dion has not said that he will whip his group, so we have no assurances that those anti-choice or undeclared Liberals will vote against this Bill. So...we gotta get on his case. Birth Pangs has setup an Activist Page that allows you to send a quick email to the Loyal Leader of the Opposition. It's quick. It's easy. It's polite. If you are uncomfortable filling in web-forms, then you can contact Dion directly:

House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6
Telephone: (613) 996-5789
Fax: (613) 996-6562
Web Site:*
Preferred Language: French

Constituency Offices

750 Marcel-Laurin Blvd, Suite 440
Saint-Laurent , Québec
H4M 2M4
Telephone: (514) 335-6655
Fax: (514) 335-2712

Tell him we'll be watching. And we're ready: Birth Pangs has issued a Call Out for February 25, Sadie Hawkins Day, asking pro-choice bloggers to post about C-484. Here's BP's fern hill with our marching orders:
In response, we at Bread and Roses and Birth Pangs are launching a campaign we’re calling ‘One body. One person. One count.’
We’re calling on all progressive bloggers — and especially ones with Liberal connections — to blog against this bill on Monday, February 25. We hope that thousands of blog readers will be moved to contact their MPs to tell them what they think of this sneak attack on women’s rights.
Go and be motivated by pale’s powerful vid.
We hope that bloggers and their readers will inform themselves by visiting the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada to read Joyce Arthur’s excellent article on the bill here and the talking points against it.
In the meantime, you can further this action by visiting and directing your readers to Birth Pangs’s Activist Page to send an automatic message to Stéphane Dion demanding that he whip his MPs into line on this.
Do it. Bookmark or 'del.ici.ous' Birth Pangs' page or pale's Youtube video. Facebook them, too, for good measure. And then tell your friends to do it. And so on. You know what to do.

February 25th: One body. One person. One count.

Note: if anyone has more recent-MP math regarding the population of anti-choicers and undeclared MPs, please feel free to comment and I'll update my post.

Read on, MacDuff!

Saturday, February 09, 2008

I've let y'all down *sniff*

Ok, that's a bit conceited, eh?

What I meant was: I totally neglected my Schreiber and Mukasey 'live' blogging duties this week. I was very busy when the House of Commons Ethics committee reconvened this week and, before I knew it, I'd already missed an entire day's worth of Norman Spector and Allan Rock testimony. For shame.

As luck would have it, CPAC is promising to re-air both its Feb 5 & 7 coverage on Sunday (12:30 PM and 2:30 PM EST). I will make an honest attempt to watch and je vais faire des notes. My apologies to the faithful readers who have come to my blog in search of those notes, only to find musty ol' coverage from 2007. I trust that you were able to get your Schreiber-fix elsewhere, e.g. Kady O'Malley's coverage on Feb 5 and 7, and, of course Impolitical's analysis.

And while I'm apologizing: I also missed the US House Judiciary committee's Feb 7th hearing on torture. Skdadl and I followed the Senate's latest hearing last week, but I totally abandoned her this Thursday, and left skdadl alone with Mukasey. Skdadl covered the HJC (beginning here, on this thread at BnR) and then posted about it at POGGE. Go! Read skdadl and watch those Youtubes. They will make your hair stand on end.

C-span has posted vids of the HJC proceedings, so I will try to catch up with that this weekend.

Shame-kitteh via Icanhascheezburger

Read on, MacDuff!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Obama backer jokes: "we may give San Francisco to Canada"

Fightin' words from San Francisco Mayor, Gavin Newsom (San Fran Chron):
...just four years ago, current Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is said to have declined to have his picture taken in San Francisco with Newsom, who was then at the center of a national uproar over his decision to allow same-sex marriage in San Francisco.

"I gave a fundraiser, at his (Obama's) request at the Waterfront restaurant," said former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown. "And he said to me, he would really appreciate it if he didn't get his photo taken with my mayor. He said he would really not like to have his picture taken with Gavin."
"He was pissed," said one former staffer.

In fact, early last year, Newsom alluded to the incident in an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Speaking to Reuters on Jan. 26, 2007, Newsom was asked about three potential Democratic candidates: Obama, Hillary Clinton and Al Gore.

He was asked about the flak he took after announcing that San Francisco would allow same-sex marriages - flak that included claims he had helped Republicans by handing them a wedge issue heading into a presidential election year. In the interview, Newsom admitted he'd been hammered over the decision. "And I'm not just saying from Republicans," he added at the time.

"One of the three Democrats you mentioned as presidential candidates, as God is my witness, will not be photographed with me, will not be in the same room with me," Newsom told Reuters, "even though I've done fundraisers for that particular person - not once, but twice - because of this issue."
Classy, eh? If you think this was an isolated incident, recall Obama's autumn courtship with homophobic preacher, Donnie McClurkin.
Mr. McClurkin, a black preacher who sang at the Republican National Convention in 2004, has gained notoriety for his view that homosexuality is a choice and can be “cured” through prayer, a view ridiculed by gay people.
Ridiculed by gay people? How 'bout "ridiculed by anyone with a fucking brain?!" Obama defended himself thusly:
Mr. Obama said through a spokesman that he “strongly disagrees” with Mr. McClurkin’s views. He did not indicate he would cancel Mr. McClurkin’s appearance, but said, “I have consistently spoken directly to African-American religious leaders about the need to overcome the homophobia that persists in some parts of our community so that we can confront issues like H.I.V./AIDS and broaden the reach of equal rights in this country.”
I still don't like it. I don't think you give bigots like McClurkin a seat at the table. You don't stand with them and sing-along. You do not clap in time to their odious music.

You know what? I had nearly forgotten about the McClurkin thing until this morning, when I read about Newsom.

But the ever-merciful kitty will let Obama's camp have the last word. Here's how they responded to Newsom's damning anecdote (via Ben Smith):
Fumes a high-level Obama backer: "He is never going to serve in our administration, and we may give San Francisco to Canada."

Read on, MacDuff!

Monday, February 04, 2008

Wherein Matalin realizes she has to back McCain

...and Kitty remembers why she stopped watching Meet the Press:
Republican Mary Matalin, right; Democrat James Carville, left, MTP, Feb 3

Mary is having a tough time these days. The former Cheney adviser and Republican 'strategist' has had a lotta bad luck, lately. Not "hey! I'm stuck in GTMO without access to a lawyer!" bad luck, but still: the woman's had better days.

I think the last time I saw Mary, she was heading up the "I'm with Fred!" campaign. Yeah. Even Fred's not with Fred anymore...

So what's going on in this picture? Matalin's listening to her husband, James Carville:
MR. CARVILLE: In 2004, we were sure there were three powerful pillars of the Republican Party: the right wing preachers, the nutty supply siders and talk radio, OK? It--McCain has vanquished all three. All of them had no influence in this election. McCain has said that he definitely was not on the right wing preachers, he's definitely not a supply sider and right wing talk radio can't stand John McCain. And now they have to deal with him. That's the, that's the reality.
...and the penny? She dropped.

Poor Matalin realized that she would have to back John McCain in the General Election! Aaaaaaaaah!

And poor kitty realized that she had lost an entire hour of her Sunday.

Seriously, for a GOOD take on what's wrong with American horse-race coverage, see media-prof, Jay Rosen. Please! Go Now! Save yourselves!

Photo credit: ME! This is old school, yo. I was watching teevee, paused it, and snapped it with my ancient digicam.

Read on, MacDuff!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

"I'm sure he'd kick an ass or two..."

I've been thinking a lot about the surreal Reagan necrophilia worship goin' on in the American GOP debates, lately. To wit: Wednesday night's debate at the Reagan library in Simi Valley, California. Here's CNN's Anderson Cooper, asking the final question of the evening:
Would, and if so, why -- why would Ronald Reagan endorse you? Would Ronald Reagan endorse you? And if so, why?
Governor Romney?
ROMNEY: Absolutely. Ronald Reagan would look at the issues that are being debated right here and say, one, we're going to win in Iraq, and I'm not going to walk out of Iraq until we win in Iraq.
Ronald Reagan would say lower taxes. Ronald Reagan would say lower spending.
Ronald Reagan would -- is pro-life. He would also say I want to have an amendment to protect marriage.
Ronald Reagan would say, as I do, that Washington is broken. And like Ronald Reagan, I'd go to Washington as an outsider -- not owing favors, not lobbyists on every elbow. I would be able to be the independent outsider that Ronald Reagan was, and he brought change to Washington.
Ronald Reagan would say, yes, let's drill in ANWR. Ronald Reagan would say, no way are we going to have amnesty again. Ronald Reagan saw it, it didn't work. Let's not do it again.
Ronald Reagan would say no to a 50-cent-per-gallon charge on Americans for energy that the rest of the world doesn't have to pay.
Ronald Reagan would have said absolutely no way to McCain- Feingold.
I would be with Ronald Reagan. And this party, it has a choice, what the heart and soul of this party is going to be, and it's going to have to be in the house that Ronald Reagan built.
Got it? He's Mitt Romney: The Dead-Reagan-Whisperer. You can watch all of the candidates respond here (beginning at 3 min 23 sec), but I would strongly advise against it.

You know what? Now that I think of it, the whole seemyseamy (har har...Simi Valley) spectacle reminded me of this:

('What would Brian Boitano Do?' lyrics)

Read on, MacDuff!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

TKO! Happy Birthday, Birth Pangs!

It's Groundhog Day, mesdames et messieurs, and you know what that means: it's Birth Pangs' 1st birthday! Happy Birthday, sweetie dahlings. Let's all raise a glass and make a toast!

'Martini Time' courtesy of The Imaginative Universal

Read on, MacDuff!

Friday, February 01, 2008

Now journalists can't kiss the talking frogs, either

Good Gawd. ReWind.It and Mandos tell me that Harper is keeping the media from talking to the scientists who work at Environment Canada:
Environment Canada has "muzzled" its scientists, ordering them to refer all media queries to Ottawa where communications officers will help them respond with "approved lines."

The new policy, which went into force in recent weeks and sent a chill through the department research divisions, is designed to control the department's media message and ensure there are no "surprises" for Environment Minister John Baird and senior management when they open the newspaper or turn on the television, according to documents obtained by Canwest News Service.

"Just as we have ‘one department, one website' we should have ‘one department, one voice,' " says a PowerPoint presentation from Environment Canada's executive management committee that's been sent to department staff.
This news comes on the heels of the Harper government's dismissal of the National Science Advisor, which in turn came on the heels of the Harper government's dismissal of the nuclear safety regulator.

In case you missed the 'talking frog' reference: it relates to a joke often told by the dismissed National Science Advisor, Arthur Carty (I posted the joke on the weekend). It's about talking frogs, politicians, and journalists.

But these days, the only one left laughing is Mr. Harper.

Read on, MacDuff!